The financial advice profession lacks consistent protocols for handling suspected financial abuse, and there are significant barriers to effective collaboration due to privacy laws and insufficient whistleblower protections, according to the Financial Advice Association.

In its submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services inquiry into Financial Abuse, the FAAA put forward seven recommendations to help reduce the impact of financial abuse:  

  • Take action to raise public awareness of financial abuse;
  • Create a central source of training, information and support for affected people, including the financial professionals who are the ‘frontline’ in identifying this abuse;
  • Establish a hotline for consumers and service providers;
  • Review the privacy and whistleblower protection laws to ensure relevant information can be safely shared, where financial abuse is suspected;
  • National harmonisation of currently state-based estate planning laws;
  • Establish a national register of Powers of Attorney; and
  • Develop a standard identification, reporting and escalation framework.

Financial abuse affects a significant number of Australians, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting that 1.6 million women and 745,000 men have experienced financial abuse. It is also recognised in both state and federal laws as a form of domestic violence.

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